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Higher education labs to boost local innovators and fuel growth

20 September 2019

Aerospace Integration Research Centre Cranfield University, Aerospace Integration Research Centre

Today, the government has announced 20 new University Enterprise Zones (UEZs), with £20million investment to be delivered by Research England in a plan to stimulate development of incubator or ‘grow-on’ space for small businesses in locations that encourage businesses to interact with universities and to innovate. 

Cranfield University is one of the successful 20, being awarded £1.2million for AVIATE+. 

Building on the SEMLEP area's strengths and successes in the Aerospace sector, the Cranfield University Enterprise Zone seeks to establish a UK Aviation Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship Cluster. With recent developments in aviation technologies and the easing of light aircraft regulations, small agile firms are now in an ideal position to bring forward the technologies of the future. Cranfield University is actively pursuing utilisation of its unique capacities to address this need. AVIATE+ will significantly expand Cranfield University’s business incubation infrastructure by providing specialist business grow-on space with appropriate connectivity and infrastructure.

Other successful Universities across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc include: 

Oxford Brookes University, awarded £1.2million for an Artificial Intelligence & Data Analysis Incubator (AIDA). The AIDA Incubator will target start-ups, scale-ups and established companies to maximise productivity, margins, growth and turnover.The companies helped will include, but not be limited to, lawyers, human resources, insurance, planners and creative sectors.The AIDA incubator is part of OBU’s Ethical AI Institute, a world class team of AI Researchers, Data Analysts, social scientists and business researchers and will provide companies with consultancy, training and contract research.

The University of Cambridge was awarded £500,000 for their Greater Cambridge Health Tech Connect.

The University of Cambridge will create a University Enterprise Zone that pioneers new ways of collaborating across physics, technology, engineering, biology and medicine and thereby drives new innovation in healthcare as well as manufacturing and engineering. This project will explore and scale-up new and existing models of business incubation. By strengthening the interdisciplinary bridge between two research hubs in South and West Cambridge, they will drive new research and development and deliver a model that can be applied more widely to support company incubation.

Funding for the UEZs has been announced alongside an investment of £78 million in the second wave of UK Research and Innovation’s Future Leaders Fellowships.

For details on all 20 University Enterprise Zones, read here:

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